Where did I say that I expected anyone else to do any of that? By my own words, they were silly hacks. My question was why the Nest is different than the Ecobee or any other smart thermostat that has been around for years. They all do the same things: smartly adjust to the outside temperature and usage patterns, provide data to the user about energy use, and allow control from the Internet or wireless network.
None of those examples actually answer his question, they just belittle it a bit, but the original question, and in fact all of those, are very valid.
I suspect the current hype about the Nest is due to two reasons: 1) Apple people made it, and Apple is newsworthy right now; 2) it doesn't look like other thermostats, it looks easy to use and unique. I think that right now the Nest's aesthetic is getting it traction, time will tell if that's enough to get it sales.